Padres Prospects: Spring Training Notebook II

Peoria, AZ: It is clear the message is being broadcast from the entire coaching staff – breeding players fit for Petco Park with an aggressive turn to the patient approach. There were also lots of highlights from three intrasquad games.

  • With all of the players assembled and given their duties for the day, infield coordinator Gary Jones – a hybrid coach who teaches many different disciplines – made his way to the forefront to address the assembled prospects.

    "I want to see an aggressive running game," Jones said. Take your chances when you see them. Get your repetitions now so when the season starts you are comfortable."

    The Padres are aiming to be more like the Angels farm system – one that steals lots of bases and puts pressure on the opposition. Taking an extra base is also in the cards and players are constantly being yelled at to "go hard".

    Kevin Winn was one such example on Thursday. He lined a ball just right of center off Deiber Sanchez and hustled his way into a double during the intrasquad game. That earned rave reviews from the staff.

    On the other side, Everett Williams laced a ball into the left-center gap off Stiven Osuna. The ball was an easy double, and the right-handed hitter cruised into second base rather than pressing the play. Had he pushed the play and gone all out, it would have been an easy triple since the ball was not fielded cleanly. It earned some grumbles from the coaching staff watching play.

    Pushing the pace is the goal and not taking anything for granted. Winn executed it well. Williams did not.

    Edinson Rincon even got in on the action. He stole second base off John Hussey and Ali Solis after netting an RBI laser on 1 -2 pitch.

    He was, however, a little too aggressive. Solis backpicked Rincon off second after the third baseman took too big a lead. Solis did not hesitate and threw a bullet down to second to nab Rincon. He almost had him leaning off first base prior to the steal but lost control of the ball.

  • Among the other attributes being developed is a focus on line drive hitters.

    A nylon type of net has been installed at the top of several batting cages – hanging down from the cage by roughly a foot. The intent is to eliminate the pop ups and penchant for hitting fly balls.

    Hitting coordinator Tony Muser was adamant that this net was here to serve a positive purpose – not one of frustration. While it is true that some balls that hit the net could be targeted for beyond the outfield wall, the line drive mentality he is driving home with the players is one that will create power and do damage on its own – the common phrase holds true, ‘Homers will take care of themselves.'

    "The overhang is there for a purpose," Muser said. "We are going to be line drive oriented hitting for a championship season."

    Again, this comes down to the mantra handed down from the top – hitters that work the spacious gaps of Petco Park.

    Many a hitter took advantage on Thursday with hard contacts on a line...

  • Kevin Correia and Edward Mujica took their shots against a smattering of minor league prospects. Looking to continue the spring training pace, Correia was limited to 75 pitches and worked efficiently.

    His fastball was crisp in working ahead in the count and his changeup looked exceptional, inducing weak contacts and lots of ground balls. While there was more to his line than this report holds, Correia retired each of the first six batters he faced in order with two strikeouts.

    Mujica worked just one inning. He surrendered a double to Mitch Canham on a 1-2 pitch but stranded the runner at third. Canham, incidentally, had a nice piece of hitting to get to a tough changeup on the outside corner. Instead of trying to pull the ball and making an easy out, he went the other way with the ball, dropping it down the left field line.

  • Matt Vern, Brett Basham, Kevin Hansen and Wande Olabisi quickly abused Miles Mikolas.

    Vern started off the barrage with a triple to the deepest part of the field, hustling the entire way. Basham then doubled into the gap and Hansen followed with a triple of his own – aided by poor fielding from the outfielder. Wande Olabisi – a player that makes incredibly hard contact when he connects with the ball – laced a single to score a third run.

    Josh Geer wasn't sharp either. Matt Clark ripped a single off the right-hander. Third baseman Brayden Drake followed with a knock. Keoni Ruth than walloped a double into the left-center gap to net a pair of RBI.

    Jeremy McBryde settled in after some early trouble. He saw Jason Hagerty rip a single to right and Jonathan Galvez hit a triple to left field before fanning Donavan Tate on a slider and getting out of the rest of his inning unscathed.

    Tate, in two at-bats seen, struck out both times. He leaked forward on off-speed pitches each occasion and was caught on his front foot committing before pitch recognition occurred.

  • Cody Decker just missed a homer off James Needy and came back with a hard hit double off Nick Greenwood. After moving to third on a productive out, Chris Tremblay knocked him in with an infield single that might have also been called an error. Tremblay's hard running, however, made it a bang-bang play.

    Needy performed well but had one pitch he wanted back – the one he felt he almost gave away to Decker, acknowledging Decker's prowess with the bat and ability to pay when a pitcher makes any mistake.

    "I felt good," Needy said. "I am putting my work in to make a team. I didn't have any soreness. I threw pretty well – almost had a bomb hit off me, kind of scary, but it went well."

    Derrick Loop was excited to be back on the mound with his new organization. Known for his exceptional pickoff move, the left-hander did not disappoint when he picked off a runner leaning. Loop was last season closing games in the Carolina League for the Boston Red Sox' Salem affiliate where he posted a 1.61 ERA.

    "It was my first time facing live hitters other than batting practice simulations so it was nice to get out there on the mound, finally," Loop said. "A little bit of nerves and my fastball was a little bit up. Other than that, the arm feels good. The pickoff move still works (laughing)."

  • Nick Hall, signed out of the Independent Leagues was impressive in his inning of work. He induced Nate Freiman into a double play grounder and displayed a solid changeup to go with fastball command.

    Griffin Benedict displayed the type of swing that needs to be employed more often. Facing John Hussey, who is finally healthy but will have to fight to make a team, Benedict had an easy swing double – using a lot of the pitcher's force – that went over the left fielder's head. It was the 95 percent effort swing that usually produces the best results, and Benedict pulled it off well.

  • The Padres will play their first official games of the spring on Friday, facing off against Kansas City. The Low-A and High-A teams are home while the Double-A and Triple-A teams hit the road.
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